Many take for granted that there is a grocery store, convenience store, or restaurant nearby with a multitude of food options. But the stark reality is that for the vast majority of people around the world, this is not the case.
For many years, IFT members have been part of important task forces and work groups focused on eradicating global hunger. They have analyzed the dimensions of food security and advocated for those who were voiceless. They have identified technologies and approaches for reducing food insecurity. They have brought their learnings back to their companies, academic institutions, and our community of professionals so we can collectively work to effect meaningful change.
While this work has been critical, the unfortunate truth remains that global hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition continue to rise, with COVID-19 pushing even more people into poverty and hunger than we could have ever anticipated.
The global science of food community plays an important role in achieving a world where people have year-round access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food, and I am thrilled to share a few ways IFT is actively working to be part of the solution.
Last month, IFT launched the first Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge, which seeks to inspire and support passionate, creative, and diverse teams of innovators across multiple disciplines and cultures in helping to transform the food system. The Challenge was initiated by Bernhard van Lengerich, founder of Seeding The Future Foundation, who was inspired by the important and urgent need for action to improve our food system on many levels and in many geographies. With three levels of awards totaling up to $1 million annually, the Challenge is focused on innovations that reside at the white space where three domains intersect: safe and nutritious food for a healthy diet; sustainable, regenerative practices; and empowering conscious consumer choices. We are thrilled to be collaborating with Seeding The Future to bring Bernhard’s idea to life and sincerely thank him for entrusting IFT with his vision.
We are also convening experts from around the world to explore the topic of zero hunger at IFT’s new digital experience, FIRST—Food Improved by Research, Science, & Technology. Our Science FIRST program will delve into six key areas of our global food system—health and nutrition, food safety, consumer insights and education, environmental sustainability, technology and innovation, and supply chain transformation—with expert panels, discussion circles, and scientific presentations aimed at addressing challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions for this mounting problem. Our Monday, July 19, keynote speaker, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, co-founder of Food Systems for the Future, will share her perspectives on our guiding question: Zero Hunger: Will We Get There? Our Tuesday, July 20, keynote speaker, Lisa Dyson, founder and CEO of Air Protein, will present her thoughts on “Rising to the Challenge.” You don’t want to miss this impactful program.
Innovation is needed in all areas of the food system to enable the transformation needed to feed our growing population sustainable, nutritious, and acceptable food, and that’s exactly what FIRST is all about. In addition to our scientific sessions, our Business FIRST program featuring trends and market insight sessions, our new Leading Indicators series, and the digital reboot of Startup Central is sure to ignite new thinking and help you make strategic connections to move your business and career forward. We are also excited to present a new offering, the FIRST Solution Exchange, in which global supplier experts will be matched with qualified influencers, innovators, and decisions makers looking for ingredients, products, and services to address their product innovation challenges and goals. I am looking forward to connecting with suppliers and learning about the latest trends impacting our work. I hope to see you online that week.
I encourage you to check out the Q&A with Bernhard van Lengerich in this month’s Food Technology magazine to learn more about the Seeding The Future Challenge and visit IFTevent.org for all the program details and to register for FIRST. Together, we can and will harness opportunities like these to catalyze positive change in the global food system.